Here’s something it never even occurred to me to worry about: This month the Environmental Working Group released their report on fluoride levels in popular dog foods. You guessed it. In eight out of ten brands they tested, the levels are so high they pose a threat to your hungry mutt’s health!
How much is too much?
While there has never been extensive research to find out exactly what level of fluoride is unsafe in dogs, we do know what is unsafe for humans. The study found the levels in eight major brands of dog food to be between 1.6 and 2.5 times higher than the EPA’s limits on fluoride in drinking water. They were also found to be higher than the levels that were linked to bone cancer in young boys in a 2006 study at Harvard.
High doses of fluoride have been linked to cancer and to other health problems as well. Studies have shown it can cause major damage to reproductive, nervous, and hormonal systems.
How’d it get in there?
Dog food manufacturers most likely did not add the fluoride to the food to protect your dog’s pearly whites. Instead, the scientists believe that the high levels of fluoride come from the bone meal and other animal byproducts which are used as cheap fillers in many brands of dog food. While fluoride isn’t listed on the label, byproducts usually are. Look for “chicken by-product meal,” “beef meal” or other types of byproduct or meal. Some brands describe their chicken or beef meal as “human grade,” which means it is not a likely source of fluoride.
EWG notes that even more fluoride finds its way into the dog food through the use of fluoridated water used to make the food. This is important because if your home’s water is fluoridated, you are adding even more into the mix every time you fill your dog’s drinking bowl.
What about your dog?
If you’re like me, you’ve already skimmed this article to find out which brands are the worst. Unfortunately, EWG did not release the names of the brands they tested. However they did deliver a big clue on how to avoid harming your dog – skip the brands that use byproducts.
Switch to cleaner dog food
Look for brands that proudly state they contain no animal byproducts. Even before this study, animal byproducts had been shown to be bad for dogs so this is a win-win for your pooch.
(Although this study focused on dog food, it’s safe to assume the data applies to cat food as well!)
Kimberly Delaney is the author of Clean Home, Green Home: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Eco-Friendly Homekeeping, published by the Knack imprint of Globe Pequot Press.